Above: Mili Eshet plays activist daughter Ifat in “Beyond the Mountains and the Hills,” being shown Jan. 29 and Feb. 2, 4, 9 and 10.
A father’s difficulty adjusting to post-military life in Israel is at the center of “Beyond the Mountains and Hills,” a thought-provoking attempt by writer-director Eran Kolirin to depict the realities of a modern-day Israeli family.
There’s much more to the story than just the father (David), but it’s his retirement from the military after 27 years that is the tipping point in setting his seemingly perfect family on a confusing ride through Israeli society.
David has trouble adjusting to his new line of work and becomes discontented. His adolescent daughter, Ifat, gets caught up in protests of the army and befriends a group of Palestinians living up on the hill. His wife, Rina, begins an affair with a teenage student, and their son, Omri, is driven to drastic action when he finds out about it.
The themes “Beyond” explores closely mirror the 1999 film “American Beauty” by examining what lies beneath the façade of a perfect family and the bonds that hold people together. Although it might not sound like the most original theme, “Beyond” doesn’t feel stale because Kolirin juxtaposes the family drama with the politically charged atmosphere of contemporary Israel.
The film itself is not overtly political, but it’s hard to ignore the constant hunt for terrorists and the bomb scares the characters face on a daily basis. And when Ifat visits the Arab village, we are painfully reminded of the disparity in the standard of living there vs. her family’s.
The film’s multiple plot lines feel sluggish despite a brief 90-minute running time, but the payoff at the end and the well-selected soundtrack, including nostalgic gems like Alphaville’s 1984 hit “Forever Young,” make this a movie worth checking out at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.